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Title: Virtue, enmity and the art of tormenting : resistance to sensibility in women's writing, 1740-1800
Author: Davies, Joanne
ISNI:       0000 0004 5995 0123
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2015
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This study aims to locate, examine and account for the many, and varied, forms of resistance to sentimental culture advanced by eighteenth-century women writers. Through reference to essays, novels, poems and memoirs, the thesis traces the evolution of this opposition over a sixty-year period. It contends that the subtly subversive representations of unsentimental conduct depicted by women writers at mid-century anticipate and shape the more explicitly antisentimental rhetoric espoused by more openly radical figures in later decades. The thesis aims to unite these two elements by tracing the evolution of this critique from its earliest beginnings - embedded, opaquely, in the literature of the 1740s - to its free expression in the' transparently antisentimental writings of the 1790s and beyond. The first chapter argues that Jane Collier's 1753 work An Essay on the Art of Ingeniously Tormenting anticipates the antisentimental themes discussed in Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). The second chapter examines six novels published by Collier's close friend and collaborator, Sarah Fielding, between 1744 and 1760. It argues that Fielding played an important role in the inception of an unsentimental tradition in eighteenth-century fiction. The third chapter addresses the considerable body of poetry written by women on the theme of indifference. It contends that indifference functioned as a further thematic site upon which the gendered prescriptions of sentimental culture could be contested. The fourth chapter examines a range of memoirs written by socially transgressive women which exploit, subvert and contest sentimental values. The final chapter discusses the development of the antisentimental novel in the 1780s and 1790s and considers the extent to which it can be read as distinct from earlier critiques of sentimental culture.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available